Charles Allen Du Val

His life and works

Joseph Henry Blackburne

The virtuoso chess player Joseph Henry Blackburne 1841-1924 was a noted member of the Manchester Chess Club, of which Charles Allen Du Val was President.

He was born in 1841 at Chorlton-on-Medlock in Manchester, the village suburb where the Du Val family lived, and joined the Club in about 1860. He became very famous in chess circles, and was an extraordinary character.

Blackburne was the leading British chess player of his time. Although he did not learn the game until he was 18, he quickly became a strong player and had a professional chess career lasting for over 50 years. He became the world's second most successful player, winning many major tournaments. He enjoyed popularising chess, particularly by playing many simultaneous games blindfold, and demonstrated his skill in displays around the country. Blackburne also published a collection of his own games, and was a chess correspondent for The Field until his death in 1924.

He married Mrs Mary Jane Goodway nee Fox (1839-1922) born at Banbury. (1).

(1) She however was not the lady in the portrait by Charles Allen Du Val of Mrs Ireland Blackburne and Child exhibited at the Liverpool Academy in 1832 (LA 218). That Mrs Blackburne was a much grander lady, of Plantagenet descent no less.

In 1846 Colonel John Ireland Blackburne (1817-1893) MP of Hale and Orford Hall near Warrington married Mary Bold-Hoghton (1825-1855) who was “of the Blood Royal”. (A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry by Sir Bernard Burke 1852 volume 1 pages 100 and 635; The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal by the Marquis of Ravigny 1994 page 115.) Possibly the child in the portrait was William Ireland Blackburne (later William Ireland Blackburne Maze), the eldest son of the Reverend Thomas Blackburne MA Rector of Prestwich near Manchester, or one of his seven brothers and sisters. The Reverend Thomas Blackburne was the brother of Colonel John Ireland Blackburne. (Gentleman’s Magazine 1856 volume 200 page 296.)